Five Myths about Private Jets

August 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If money were no object, you’d probably travel via a private jet, right? It’s a dream of many weary business travelers — no lines, nobody leaning their seat back, better choice of reading materials.

Private jet once owned by Ayrton SennaWhile private jet travel may not be an option for many of us, a March 2016 story in USA Today shows us we don’t have to let these myths keep us from exploring private jet service as an option.

Myth #1: You need to be mega rich or a celebrity to fly in a private jet. Nope. Most private planes you see at airports are actually owned by charter services and are used primarily by business people. While having access to a limitless expense account would help, JetSuite.com offers what it calls “Suite Deals,” starting at $500. Granted, it’s still going to cost you significantly more than a commercial flight, but when time is of the essence, price becomes a relative issue.
Read more

How to Fly Without an ID

July 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s about the biggest inconvenience you can experience when traveling: you arrive at the airport and realize you don’t have your ID. What do you do? For starters, don’t turn around and go home. You won’t make your flight, and may be hit with a ticket change fee.

Here’s what you can do instead.

TSA CheckpointFirst, seriously, don’t panic. It is possible to continue with your itinerary without an ID. Isn’t that good news? The bad news is it’s going to cost you some time, but no money.

Be prepared to provide a succinct summary of your predicament to TSA. You don’t have to hang your head or act embarrassed. This happens enough that they’re used to it, and as long as you are willing to submit yourself to a second layer of security, you’ll be fine. Whatever you do, don’t be cocky — you are in no position to demand anything — after all, you did forget your ID or lost it. You are at the mercy of the system and there is a procedure for this situation, so submit to it, be kind and be patient. The old saying, “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part,” applies here.

Next, be prepared to answer all questions honestly and politely. TSA officers go through behavioral detection training, and while you may be stressed, you don’t have to be nervous. They’re just doing their job.
Read more

TSA Hires Officers, Shifts Dog Teams to Shorten Lines

July 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

I consider myself a frequent business traveler, but even I was shocked when I descended the escalator to the security area at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago last month. The entire winding queue was full and an overflow area had been set up to accommodate more travelers. My first thought was, “I’m glad I got here early.”

TSA CheckpointThe line didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would, but it was still 45 minutes long, much longer than I like to stand in line.

Now that the summer travel season is in full swing, many people are experiencing firsthand what others have been talking about for months: long lines. TSA successfully petitioned Congress this spring to reverse its decision to cut 1,700 people from its workforce and has hired 800 new officers, but it’s still taking some time to get up to speed.
Read more

Pending Queuemageddon Makes TSA PreCheck Worth The Price

June 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re a leisure traveler, perhaps you’ve heard about the TSA PreCheck and thought it wasn’t enough of a value for you to plunk down $85 to get special clearance for five years. I guess that means you like standing in line. For a long, long time.

No? Hopefully you have comfortable shoes, because the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) estimates the summer travel season will cost travelers at least an hour in the security line.

TSA PreCheck signAt least.

Would you rather stand in line for an inestimable amount of time and potentially miss your flight or pay $85 and jump the line? If you’re like me, you’d like to jump the line.

Business travelers, still not convinced PreCheck is worth the money? Consider this: is your time worth $30 per hour? Take your total salary and divide it by 2000 working hours a year, and you’ll know how much you make an hour. If you make $60,000 per year, your time is worth $30 per hour.
Read more

TSA Pleads with Congress for Overtime

June 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It was the recipe for a perfect storm. The security screening process at most major airports was already operating at capacity, and the summer travel season was just months away. In an attempt to anticipate the influx, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) campaigned to get 25 million travelers to sign up for its PreCheck program. But the campaign to enroll members in the program only netted nine million users, so Congress cut nearly 10 percent of TSA’s workforce: 4600 people.

Now summer is here and TSA is understaffed, so it pleaded with Congress to authorize overtime for its existing workers while it scrambles to hire and train 768 new officers. The reallocation of funds from one account to another, to the tune of $34 million dollars, was approved May 12. TSA had originally planned on completing its needed hiring by September, but the estimated eight percent increase in travelers anticipated between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day changed that.

TSA Bag CheckSince the first of the year, TSA has been advising travelers to arrive at least two hours before their domestic flight in order to allow adequate time to navigate the security line. Many have not heeded this advice and a harbinger of what was to come was seen in March during Spring Break when nearly 7,000 travelers missed their flights due to long wait times.
Read more

TSA Wants 25 million Travelers to choose Precheck and Global Entry

May 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

What’s the worst part of the travel experience? Take an informal poll and you’ll find “going through security” to be in the top three, if not number one. Since 9/11, Americans have developed strategies for removing their shoes, unloading their laptops, and shrinking their toiletries to three ounce travel sizes in order to streamline their security screening.

TSA Pre-Check signWhat if you could skip all that rigamarole and stroll through security without removing anything? You can, and The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) wants to tell you how. While many frequent business travelers are familiar with Precheck, TSA is on a campaign to get more travelers to sign up.

The process is relatively simple: you fill out a form online and schedule a brief, in-person interview at the airport where you present the required documentation (a passport, driver’s license, or birth certificate) and are fingerprinted. The $85 fee provides Precheck security clearance for five years.
Read more

Passport Expiring? Better Get it Renewed, Fast!

April 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Procrastinators, beware! The State Department wants you to check your passport expiration and submit it now to avoid the expected flood of renewals of the 10-year document. They’re anticipating a surge in demand because 2006 was the first year the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative went into effect, requiring Americans flying to and from Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean to produce a passport for re-entry into the country.

A biometric US passport

A biometric US passport

There has also been an increase in renewal activity due to the implementation of the Real ID Act, which creates a more stringent set of standards for travelers using driver’s licenses and other identity cards to board a plane.

To clarify, the Department of Homeland Security has set a January 22, 2018 deadline for states to comply with the changes instituted by the Real ID Act. A passport will serve as a viable alternative to either forms of identification for those traveling after the deadline from non-compliant states.

Read more

DHS Revisiting Validity of State Driver’s Licenses

February 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Depending on which state you lived in, you might have had some trouble getting onto your next flight. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was all set to require states to issue driver’s licenses that complied with the Real ID Act.

If your license didn’t meet those standards, you couldn’t get on your plane.

But as the deadline drew near, the DHS extended their deadline to January 22, 2018, heading off a potential showdown between states and the Transportation Safety Administration at the nation’s airports.

real_id_web_03

Read more

CBP to Expand Pre-Clearance Facilities

November 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The last thing an international traveler wants to deal with after a long trip is getting through customs. It’s always an unknown, like playing a game of roulette. Will it take a few minutes or will it take an hour?

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is in discussions with 10 additional overseas airports to roll out the “welcome home” banner by instituting pre-clearance processes similar to what it already has in place at 15 other international airports. It’s a lot like the TSA’s Pre-Check program, where select individuals can bypass the TSA checkpoint and walk right to their gate.

English: US Immigration and Customs at Shannon...

US Immigration and Customs at Shannon Airport, Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I want to take every opportunity we have to push our homeland security out beyond our borders so that we are not defending the homeland from the one-yard line. Pre-clearance is a win-win for the traveling public. It provides aviation and homeland security, and it reduces wait times upon arrival at the busiest U.S. airports,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said in a DHS press release.

CBP currently offers this service at nine airports in Canada: Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, and Winnepeg, as well as airports in Dublin and Shannon, Ireland; Aruba; Nassau, Bahamas; and Bermuda. When passengers fly through pre-clearance airports, they are treated similar to passengers on a domestic flight.

The 10 proposed new sites include: Tokyo’s Narita International; Brussels, Belgium; Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Oslo, Norway; London Heathrow and Manchester in the United Kingdom; Madrid, Spain; and Instanbul, Turkey.

Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of the CBP, said that pre-clearance helps identify security threats. Last year it expedited re-entry for 17 million US-bound passengers.

Here’s how the process works: while in flight, passengers complete a simple customs form. Upon arriving, they are directed to a self-service kiosk. The kiosk scans their passport, photographs them to ensure their identity matches the passport, scans the customs form electronically, and issues a receipt. A customs officer scans the receipt and may ask a few questions. Then he or she sends the passenger on their way.

And they get to go home a little bit faster.

Bring This, Not That: Smoking Materials

October 6, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re a smoker and you’re trying to figure out how to travel so that you and your cigarettes arrive at the same destination, here’s the latest from TSA about what smokers can and cannot bring with them.

According to the TSA website, you can put two, full standard disposable or Zippo lighters in your checked suitcase, but they must be packaged in DOT approved packaging. The TSA site isn’t specific about what this packaging is, so if you want clarification, call before you fly. Torch and micro-lighters (fancy cigar lighters) are prohibited from checked baggage.

Gauloises red german and asian white lighter.

Gauloises red german and asian white lighter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In your carry-on luggage, you can bring one disposable or Zippo lighters. One matchbook of safety matches is also allowed. Micro- and torch lighters are not allowed, and neither are single strike-anywhere matches.

With the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, TSA has said they can be brought in either checked or carry-on luggage, but the accompanying e-juice must comply to the same regulations as all other carry-on liquids. Just in case you thought otherwise, e-cigarettes may not be used on any flights. Those fumes will set off the bathroom smoke alarms just like regular cigarettes.

While we’re not necessarily advocates of smoking, we recognize that people will want to be able to take their smoking materials with them. There was no real explanation as to how many cigars or cigarettes you could bring, but you’ll want to take care not to smash them as you pack your suitcase. Of course, you can always purchase your smoking materials when you arrive at your destination and avoid the problems altogether.

Have you run into any problems bringing your smoking materials onto a plane? How did you handle those situations? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

« Previous PageNext Page »